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Opinions on Rights and Autonomy of Women - Lebanon

SWMENA survey respondents were also asked a series of questions aimed at understanding dynamics between women and men, husbands and wives, and parents and daughters in areas such as economic equality, women’s autonomy in decision-making and women’s freedom of movement.

  • Respondents were asked how they feel about a daughter working outside of the home. Figures 14 and 15 show that both a majority of women and men say they would allow their daughter to work outside the home if she chose to do so, but more women are more likely to say yes than men (88% and 97% respectively). Of the few women who say they would not allow their daughter work outside the home, 46% say it’s because women should tend to the home and children, 29% say it’s because it could be dangerous for them, 10% say there are no appropriate jobs for women and 4% say she should focus on getting married. Interestingly, men are more likely to say it’s because women should tend to the children (71% of men) and less likely to cite security as a concern (11% of men). This highlights the difference between men and women on the perception of gender roles.


  • When respondents were asked about women’s freedom in choosing marriage partners and parents involvement in that process, there is a sense from both men and women that women and men should freely choose their marriage partners with guidance from their parents, but not chosen by their parents (Figure 16).  This shows the respect for women’s and men’s ability to make free decisions in regards to marriage, however, the strong family structure is reflected in the high majorities of both men and women who say that parents of both sons and daughters should have a role in at least guiding their children.


  • Married men were asked about their comfort level with their wife working full-time with pay and with their wife earning more than them. A majority of married men say they would be very comfortable (84%) or somewhat comfortable (8%) with their wives working full-time for pay. However, 54% of married men say they would be very uncomfortable if their wife earns more than them. Still, 29% of married men say they would be very comfortable if their wife earned more than them (Figure 17). 

  • Respondents were then asked a series of statements about different dynamics between women and men and husbands and wives and asked to what extent they agree or disagree. Both a majority of women and men (but more women than men) strongly/somewhat disagree that it is acceptable for men to have more than one wife (91% and 69% respectively). However, when looking at the percentage of women who agree it is acceptable for men to have more than one wife Sunni and Shia women are more likely to agree (17% and 14%) than Christian and Druze women (2% and 3%).
  • On issues related to equal work opportunities and equal access to education as men and boys, a majority of both men and women agree that “Women and girls should have equal access to education as men and boys” (99% and 98% respectively) and “Women should have equal work opportunities as men” (98% and 94% respectively).  However, when asked if men should have more right to jobs than women when jobs are scarce (Figures 18 and 19) and if a good wife should obey her husband even if she disagrees (Figures 20 and 21), a majority of men agree, but women are split between agreeing and disagreeing (Figures 18 and 20). The difference between men and women on these issues may be because men accept equal opportunities for women, but not if it means being above him in status or social/professional prestige and not if it means shifting the power balance in the household between husbands and wives. Also seen in Figures 19 and 21, there are variations in opinions amongst women of different education levels on whether they agree or disagree with these two statements. The higher the education level of the woman respondent, the less likely they are to agree with either of these statements.

  • Finally, in order to examine the level of control women feel they have over their destiny, we read respondents the statement, "Some people believe that individuals can decide their own destiny, while others think that it is impossible to escape a predetermined fate. Please tell me which comes closest to your view on this scale."   Respondents then ranked their viewpoint on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means “everything is determined by fate” and 10 means “people shape their fate themselves.” We found that more women fall on the self-determination side of the scale (61%) rather than the fate side (39%) (Figure 22). There is a statistically significant difference showing that more men than women rank themselves at the highest two levels on the self-determination side of the scale, as illustrated in Figures 22 and 23. Still, the average rank of both men and women are similar, indicating a similar outlook between genders. It is interesting to note when comparing average ranks on this scale there are variations between women of different sects (Figure 24).